Cultural Heritage

A UKOLN Blog for the Cultural Heritage sector (now archived)

Virtual Speakers at Events

Posted by Brian Kelly on April 20th, 2010

The recent CILIP Executive Briefing Days on RDA (at which I was one of the speakers) included one presentation by video from a speaker based in the US.

This could have been done in a variety of ways. It could have been a ‘talking head’ with the person simply speaking to camera; initially that may feel more interesting but there is an obvious disadvantage of no slides to refer back to after the event (unless these were supplied either in the delegate pack or made available after the event). Another way is for the speaker to be filmed giving the presentation so you see them and the slides. Thirdly, the speaker could simply do a voice-over narration while we watched the slides. We got a combination with a five-minute introduction of the speaker talking to camera followed by voice narration while viewing the slides. This meant that we got a feel for the person and an image of them we could hold in our heads during the slide section. For me, that worked well.

Why do this? Cost is an obvious factor – paying the travel expenses from the US for a fifteen-minute slot is not realistic, especially if this has to be re-couped via the delegate fee. It can also help provide a balanced programme, especially if it is not possible to get a specific viewpoint from UK-based presenters or the video presenter is particularly known and well-regarded.

Do delegates feel cheated by including video presentations? I think that depends on various factors. For example, how many video presentations are there within the programme? In this case there was just the one video presentation alongside four longer face-to-face presentations, which seemed to work well. In the context of a whole day event, I think that two short video presentations would have been acceptable (e.g. one in the morning and one in the afternoon) but for a shorter half-day event better to have just the one. And of course, there can be no face-to-face interaction: delegates cannot ask questions of the speaker or speak to them during the breaks and the speaker cannot join in panel discussion sessions.

Could one have an entire event by video presentation (or video-conferencing)? Yes, but this turns it into a different type of event and delegates would have different expectations. The Collections Trust Museum Development Officers Support Day in Nov. 2009 filmed the presentations on the day and then made these available on YouTube after the event. Have a look at these and you’ll get a feel for how wathcing an entire event via video might feel. So, if you have experienced individual video presentations or virtual events using video presentations or video-conferencing, please add your comments.